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S.K. Munt - Mermaid in training

S.K. Munt – Mermaid in training

 

We’re back with the second part of our interview featuring S.K. Munt, author of The Marked Ones and the second book in her Fairytail Series, Three Rings. Today is a momentous occasion in that Three Rings is being released and there are plenty of readers who cannot wait to get their hands on the sequel.

In Part I, we asked Ms Munt about the central characters in The Marked Ones and today we’ll learn a little bit more about the world her characters live in. We’ll also learn a wee bit about Three Rings, so let’s pick up where we left off in our 20 Questions interview.

 

Large Q You have differentiated yourself from many other authors by not envisioning vast undersea kingdoms and cities. Instead, the numbers of Mer-folk are relatively small though they do have a disproportionate influlence on human affairs. Why did you take this approach?
Large A To me, mermaids are guardians of the sea. When mermaid books are set in the past, it makes sense that mermaids are there to save sailors, foil pirates and bring down people within their own species who might try and do them or the world above harm. But the Marked Ones is set in the present, and the biggest threat to the ocean is the impact humans have on the environment. To counteract that, mermaids have to fight for environmental rights – a battle that must begin on land. So they’re in the governments and environmental organisations, trying to make a difference – backed by a rather large benefactor, their queen, who is guarding the ultimate buried treasure – a fortune that’s been amassing for 1000 years and kept within the same bloodline. You could say that they have a disproportianate influence given their small population, but then again, the biggest changes in our world and politics often begin with one person, one statement that is impassioned enough to motivate change. And the one thing mermaids have in spades, is passion.
Large Q There are many telling passages in the story but the following is my favourite:
“And what was the deal with the human? Ardhi hadn’t been close enough to hear them conversing, but he’d seen Ivyanne’s face alight with animation-seen her knock back a full drink in one gulp the moment the tall man had loped away. She’d then turned to the ocean, and rested her hand against her heart with a ridiculously moved smile on her face. A smile Ardhi had never seen before. A smile no human should be capable of gleaning from their princess.”
Tell us about this quote.
Large A I’m sure at some point, everyone has been witness to their heart’s desire desiring someone else. It’s like sinking into acid, and yet you instantly write the emotion you saw off as an infatuation or a loss of sanity – because if you love this person this much, they should love you back – and they will, in time. The moment you glimpse, however fleeting, will scar you for life regardless. This was a very subtle point within the novel where people are changed forever. Lincoln’s faith in himself has been restored and it animates him so that Ivyanne can’t look away. Ivyanne has gone to the party dressed as a teenager, trying to play a part – and yet one flirtation from Lincoln reduces her to a giddy sixteen year old human girl – no acting required. And witnessing this, Ardhi realises that he doesn’t know her as well as he thought he did, that Ivyanne has secrets and layers and desires she’s kept concealed, and it terrifies him and makes him see that he is very much an observer of her interest – not a participant. The fact that Ivyanne is on the sand when she is overwhelmed and in the throes of serious withdrawals, whereas Ardhi is fully immersed in the ocean when this plays out, speaks volumes about their natures. Ivyanne is as weak as any mermaid on land but Ardhi is as susceptible to the ‘human’ emotions he abhors so much in his own environment.
Large Q Every author of Mer-fiction envisions merfolk differently. Your approach seems to be quite original as compared to others. What was your vision?
Large A I’ve always wondered about how mermaids could have come to be, and from the very start, I knew I wanted to do a creation story. I am cursed with both a wild imagination, and a desire for logic and truth, so in order to sink into a fantasy, there has to be some facet or realism to a story that I can grasp onto – otherwise my pesky sub-conscious starts picking holes in things.Mermaids have breasts and bear children, therefore, they are mammals, and need to be as susceptible to the laws of nature as other sea dwelling mammals are. So instead of breathing through gills, like a fish, they can hold their breath for a long period of time, as a dolphin does. They also travel at similar speeds to dolphins, each mer slightly different based on their genetics. Because they need oxygen, they must spend time on the land, at least to sleep, and in order to pull that off, they need to be able to live as humans. One step led to another, and I researched each thoroughly. There is a magical element to it of course – there is no way around it and I wouldn’t want one. So the mermaids are created by one very magical woman in an attempt to save her unborn child’s life, and her magic is inherited amongst her kin, diluting as the blood does. Which is why they strive so hard to keep the court and Marked bloodlines pure. At the end of the day, it is an indulgent and I hope, feasible fantasy that every mermaid wannabe like myself could get on board with.
Large Q Your story is set in a slightly run-down resort where the mer-folk trying to earn a dollar working as staff seem to be somewhat protective of Lincoln. Why is this?
Large A The run down resort is a real place. In my childhood, it was a thrilling, busy and magical place to be, where locals and tourists gathered in droves to celebrate everything wonderful about living in the tropics. But as time passed and newer, fancier resorts began to pop up in the north, people began to trickle away, and several times, the resort has switched owners and undergone facelifts in order to save it. But never has it been returned to its original glory. This is the truth about Lincoln’s own life. He bought the fantasy he couldn’t let go of and he lives within it every day. But without that person, and that dynamic that made it so magical for him, it can never be what it was. The resort, and the man inheriting it, need life breathed back into them in order to go on and prosper. The mermaids have to live on land, have to integrate themselves with humans, but humans are a plague on this world and in order to retain their secrecy, the mermaids need to find places that are more isolated. The run-down resort is perfect for that, but as Ivyanne draws so many followers and drama, the more the resort and Lincoln are renewed, the more dangerous a place it becomes for the mers.
Large Q Your upcoming book is titled “Three Rings”. Without spoiling things for your fans, what can you tell us about this story?
Large A The Marked Ones began with a woman suffering from romantic indifference. She needed to choose a mate from 3 candidates, but didn’t have romantic feelings for any of them and to her, this was a crisis. But in Three Rings, she’s narrowed her prospects down to two – but she cares deeply for both now, so there is much more at stake for all of them, and the one left out in the cold is not happy about it, or willing to accept it. Three Rings is much darker, full of action with less of an emphasis on romance-questioning the role that fate plays in our lives. There are several more characters, and the world of the mermaids opens up to the reader, as it does to the characters. In so many ways, the Fairytail Saga is about coming of age later than one should. Ivyanne has the intellect of someone twice her age, and the hormones of a teenager. But her duty, is to marry as a woman, and over the course of Three Rings – she is presented with exactly that – three rings, from three men, and offered three different paths to follow.
Large Q How has The Marked Ones been received thus far?
Large A It is being received amazingly well. I’m getting some intriguing comparisons. Some to books I haven’t read, some saying there’s nothing like it – which is what I was shooting for – and some comparing it to a mash-up or True Blood and The Princess Bride, which made me giggle, because they are two of my obsessions. I’m finding that it’s a hard idea to sell people on – mermaids for ADULTS – but those who love it, seem to be obsessed, and that’s all I could ever hope for. There have been a dozen occasions in which I’ve sat in front of my computer and sobbed gratefully over someone’s excited review. I hope they continue to spread the word, and draw more like-minded individuals in my direction.
Large Q You seem to a very driven writer as most sequels appear to percolate for a year or more before their publication. What brings such a drive to your writing?
Large A It’s different for me because I’ve had all three ready and waiting for almost a year so aside from some fine tuning and formatting, there’s no reason to delay releasing them. I am very driven though – once I set my mind on something, it’s going to happen, and quickly. And hopefully – well. ‘Have Soapbox-will travel’ is kind of my motto.
Besides is there anything more torturous than waiting for a sequel you KNOW is coming? As I reader, I can’t stand the wait. Releasing them in swift succession is something I have the power to do, so I’ll do it 🙂
Large Q Once the last word on the last page of the last installment in your series has been written, what do you plan next? More mermaid stories?
Large A I have several ideas percolating. In my head, The Fairytail saga has a 4th story begging to be told, but whether I’ll tackle that straight away remains to be seen. I am not a single genre writer at all. I read everything and I will try my hand at writing everything. Predominantly, I am compelled towards romantic suspense, thrillers and YA. The YA books I read shaped me for life and I’d love to do something to inspire hope and excitement for those struggling with their own very real coming of age stories. I have one in mind, but my mermaids are a mischievous bunch who I need to shake before I can think of anything else, so I guess only time will tell.
Large Q Is there anything else before you go?
Large A Yes Howard I’d like to thank you for your interest in The Marked Ones. I’ve read all of your reviews so far and you’re the kind of reviewer that every debut writer needs to look over their work. Fair, open-minded and passionate. You seek the good in everything, but do not gloss over the bad. You have a way with words yourself, and I cannot wait until you put pen to paper (fingertips to keys?) to tell your own story, because I think it’s going to be great.

Samantha, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us. Readers are certainly queuing up to buy Three Rings and I’d better go get my copy right now!

Read Part I of our interview with S.K. Munt.

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